Wednesday, September 23, 2009

When Merck's Mandate-Marketing Meets Local Politics -- Ugly Truths Emerge

This story has been circulating for a while, but it is time to highlight the most odious corner of it, here.

When Merck's marketing-to-governments arm marched forward to seek state and local changes of law -- changes that would require vaccination of female children against HPV -- with products like Merck's Gardasil®, it set in motion an occasionally repugnant political and xenophobic process -- per EcoChildsPlay:

. . . .Seventeen-year-old Simone Davis has been applying for citizenship for almost 10 years. When she was 3, she was abandoned and then adopted by her paternal grandmother, who married an American. The family moved to Port St. Joe, Fla.

Now, because she refuses to get the HPV vaccine, she may be sent back to England. That’s because Gardasil is among the required vaccines for citizenship. This vaccine is not mandated for [US Citizen] American girls [in Florida], though different [States] have their own laws. . . .

The problem is that politicians actually write the laws, and do stupid things -- things like exempting citizens from their application. I am fairly certain such a law wouldn't survive Supreme Court scrutiny (on "equal protection", or "free exercise" grounds), but for now, it stands -- until the inevitable ACLU challenge wends its way through the courts.

Note also that if this girl lived in California, Iowa, Colorado or Illinois, she would not be subject to deportation for refusing the vaccine (but in Texas she might). None of that makes any sense (there is no "rational relationship" -- in Supreme Court speak -- between the law's supposed aim of stopping a sexually-transmitted-disease, and wholesale exempting girls born as US citizens from getting the vaccine), as underneath this law is the whiff of something that suggests non-citizens are dirty, promiscuous or disease ridden.

And, all in the name of selling more Gardasil®. It is a good vaccine, if appropriately deployed, voluntarily. Mounting it as the business-end of a deportation order is another matter.

Perhaps Meck should intervene, and express its opposition to such an inhumane application of a policy Merck itself set in motion.

Just a thought.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How about when marketing meets Federal politics?

Yesterday the FDA made a press release about grants to develop pediatric medical devices. Some interesting things are that one of the researchers is working in cardiovascular health ( and the day before this a J&J subsidiary gained approval for a smaller sized stent for blocked cardiac blood vessels. (

It's also kind of curious that yesterday there was an article on the WSJ health blog about Sen. Grassley looking orthopedic surgeon David W. Polly Jr., a Medtronic Inc. consultant and chief of the spine service at the University of Minnesota who did government funded research on devices and went before Congress to testify for the need for doing studies in soldiers. (N.B. the trip paid for by medtronic) While receiving 1.14 million in consulting fees. (

Senator Grassley is also looking into the Army surgeon Dr. Kuklo who did the studies on this product (Infuse) that were subsequently shown to be based on fabricated data. Since then Dr. Kuklo has moved to Washington University in St. Louis where he failed to report much of the nearly $800 K in consulting fees he has received from Medtronic in violation I believe of government agreements with the University (

Now all this is related to medical devices and specifically I have concerns about possible FDA sponsored pediatric stent studies. But you also need to think about why would pediatric patients need cardiac stents. For example you need to consider what class of drugs made by both J&J and SP (and Lilly and Pfizer and others) could possibly result in INTIMAL WALL THICKENING. Plus what drugs could also be used to treat these types of iatrogenic diseases.